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tv   Call-in with Thomas Malone Superminds  CSPAN  October 9, 2019 8:45pm-9:06pm EDT

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featuring the book "no surrender", "a good provider is one who leads", "on the plane of snakes" and jones talks about his memoir "how we fight for our lives". our live coverage from the southern festival of books continues on sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. at 2:00 eastern, an author discusses her book "learning from the germans". former u.s. ambassador to the united nations samantha power talks about her book "the edge case of an idealist" -- the edge case of an idealist -- education of an ideal list. and the book religion of fear. live coverage 11:00 a.m. eastern saturday and 1:00 p.m. sunday, on book tv on c-span 2. >> we will hear from the founding director of the mit center for collective intelligence. the work on ai will be
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discussed. then later kelly harding explores a link between mental and physical health. >> we are back live at the national book festival. we're pleased to have join us now on our book tv set professor thomas malone of mit. here's his most recent book. it is called "superminds, the surprising power of people and computers thinking together". before we get into the topic of the book, professor, what is it that you do at mit? >> i'm a professor in the sloan school of management and director of the mit center for collective intelligence. pleasure to be here. >> what kind of management training do you give at mit? >> i teach two main courses. one is an mba course on strategic organizational design, about how to organize companies in different situations, including innovative new things like wikipedia, for instance. and the other is a leadership
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workshop where i talk about -- or help students learn about different capabilities for leadership. >> what is the collective intelligence senter? >> we study the kinds of things that i wrote about in my book. collective intelligence i define in a very general way as groups of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent. so by that definition, you can say every hierarchal company or nonprofit is a kind of collective intelligence. so are markets, communities, democracies. those are all examples of collective intelligence and to foreshadow just a little bit what you may be about to ask me, i talked for a long time about these things as collectively intelligent systems and i eventually realized that a good short way of saying that was superminds. that's the name i chose for my
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most recent book. >> how has our hyperconnectivity in the year 2019 change how you view it? >> from my point of view, hyperconnectivity is a very important part of the kinds of superminds that technology makes possible. i think many people are probably overestimating how important artificial intelligence will be. i think it will be very important, but i think people are underestimating how important hyperconnectivity will be. by hyperconnectivity, i just mean connecting people to other people and often to computers at huge new scales and in rich new ways that were never possible before. so the internet is the prime enabler for the hyperconnectivity that's happening all around us all the time. i think we're just scratching the surface of what this that is going to make possible. -- what that is going to make
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possible. >> what do you see as being possible? >> wikipedia is an interesting example. it's happened already so we can understand it. if you think about how an encyclopedia would have been written 30 years ago, you know, you would have had people sending letters or maybe some e-mails back and forth, you would have had editors. you would have had some world experts who wrote the things and reviewed the things, but because of essentially free communication all over the world, now thousands of people have been able to create an encyclopedia far larger than anything we ever had before, in many ways probably far better, and by the way, almost for free. so that's a way that hyperconnectivity made it possible to organize the work of writing very big document much more easily in a quite different way. >> you also say that we're
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overestimating the use or the ability of artificial intelligence which is a huge buzz term right now. >> absolutely. i use the buzz term a lot. i teach on-line executive education courses, which i guess i should have mentioned earlier, about artificial intelligence. the first one we did is called artificial intelligence implications for business strategy. so lots of people are interested in this. i think there are huge potential for how artificial intelligence can be used in business and other parts of our society. but i think many people imagine that artificial intelligence will soon be kind of like people, doing the same things that people do, sitting in the driver's seat of a car or sitting in the boss's desk. i think that's a really misleading way of thinking about what artificial intelligence will enable to us do. >> today what are the most
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common uses of ai in our world? >> so it depends of course on how you define ai. i would say google is a kind of artificial intelligence in a sense to search algorithms there. i would say that many companies are now using chat box and things like that use some kinds of ai to communicate with people in something like natural language. more and more things like that. i think what will happen is that more and more of the small parts of what needs to be done in work will be done by artificial intelligence. but these ai programs today and for the foreseeable future are only capable of what i call specialized intelligence, doing particular tasks. they don't have the same kind of general intelligence that we humans do, the ability to talk about lots of different subjects. they use common sense, etc. and i think that's quite a long
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ways away, probably. >> you say we're just scratching the surface on these areas; correct? >> yes, both, actually. but i especially meant the surface of the possibilities for hyperconnectivity. >> so let's go back to the over estimating of ai, though. in ten years, 20 years, what is in your head that you see us doing or using this? >> well, let me tell you what people have estimated in the past, as part of a way of answering that question. first, actually, i think the reason it's so easy to overestimate the potential of ai is because our science fiction is full of computers that are as intelligent as humans, but it is much easier to imagine such computers than it is to actually create them. if you ask people today how long it will take until we have human level artificial intelligence, an average answer would probably
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be about 20 years from now. that's what many people would estimate. but what a lot of people don't know is that people have been asking that same question ever since the beginning of the field of artificial intelligence, in the 1950s. and people have estimated that human level ai has been about 20 years away, for the last 60 years. so i think it's unlikely that we'll do that, that we'll have that in the next couple of decades. >> we have a few minutes left with our guest, thomas malone. we're going to put the numbers up in case you would like to participate in a conversation with the mit professor and author of this book "supermind". 202-748-8200. 8201 is for those of you in
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mountain and pacific time zones. we will be taking those calls in a minute. i think about ibm's watson. do you have any idea how much has been invested in that program? have you had a role in it? and what is its function? >> i haven't had any personal involvement with ibm watson. i use it as an example, however. the original ibm watson program played the game show "jeopardy" and did it better than any human players of the game. i do know the person who led the development of that original watson program, and i confirmed with him what i suspected, which is that the original watson program that was so good at playing "jeopardy" couldn't even play tic tac toe, much less chess. it was very specialized for that particular task. ibm has used the term watson to describe other software they have done since then, but i think in some ways that may make
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it harder to understand that many of those other programs are really just other programs that are called the same thing, and i think that we are still a long way from a general purpose ai program that can do all kinds of different things. >> so you also teach an mba class. would you advise your students to invest and/or participate in the watson program? >> well, i don't have any particular recommendations about any company's products, for or against. i think the enterprise that ibm and many other companies are engaged in of bringing artificial intelligence techniques to bear on more and more problems in business and in medicine and so forth, i think that's a very worthwhile enterprise, one i would absolutely engage my -- my students to engage in in ibm and many other places. >> back to hyperconnectivity. is it in a sense of crowd
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sourcing? >> that's one example of what you can do with hyperconnectivity. by crowd sourcing people often mean letting anyone who wants to participate, and that's one thing you can do very easily with hyperconnectivity. and there's been some quite amazing things that have been done that way, getting good ideas from anyone anywhere in the world about how to do these things. i think that's one, but not the only way of using hyperconnectivity. >> gene's calling in from maryland. you are on with thomas malone. >> good afternoon, dr. malone. i totally agree having done 35 years of computer program starting from 1958, i totally agree with your assessment of artificial intelligence. this first popped up with very bright people trying to make things happen about 40 years ago. and the results so far are interesting, but not really major, major helpful in the affairs. as far as people using
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computers, i must give an example. john hopkins created the first global satellite navigation system from the navy, with a team of four people doing the program, and four of us on the navigation program. the point was in all the problems we had, of every kind, from the science to the computer, the atmosphere at the lab was that everybody that had any idea when we hit a stop, there would be group meetings and anybody can solve a problem, be our guest. so essentially our little example, by the way, it was successful. that system got into business in five years and ran operationally successfully for 19 years before gps. i thought you might be interested in an example. the way i translate what you are saying is a perfect example of the major factors you are talking about. thank you for your time. >> thank you, gene. >> yeah, great example. i think that you describe the team of people who work together on creating that computer program. it sounds like your team of people was a kind of supermind
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itself, and then what they produced was a software program that could do a lot of other cool things. and i think you said artificial intelligence hasn't amounted to much yet. i think we are seeing more and more very useful things that artificial intelligence is doing. credit risk evaluation, for instance, with credit cards charges and things like that. that's an example of something that happens so frequently we almost take it for granted, but that's a fairly early example of many of the benefits of artificial intelligence. >> next call for thomas malone comes from kathy in new york. hi, kathy. >> caller: hi. how are you? i watch your show all the time. >> we appreciate that. thanks for watching. what's your question for dr. malone? >> i wanted to ask dr. malone if hyperconnectivity could be related to emergent behavior in
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groups of lower order life forms? in other words, like how colonies, like birds and ants and schools of fish, would he consider that a form of hyperconductivity? >> thank you, ma'am. >> so i think the example you bring up is a very interesting one. i would absolutely consider collections of animals as in many cases examples of collective intelligence or i'd call them superminds. birds flocking together, ant colonies, beehives, etc., those are all examples of what i think is very interesting cases of collective intelligence. i wouldn't usually -- in most cases i would not consider them examples of hyperconnectivity because they still communicate with each other only at a fairly local level.
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so one ant can communicate with another ant that's right next to it physically. one bird can sense the other bird flying near it. but they don't have as far as i know the kind of long-distance communication across now the entire planet that we humans have, and it's that kind of hyperconnectivity that i think will lead to some even more interesting kinds of collective intelligence and superminds. ::
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how do i say things people will be glad they heard me say and that doesn't necessarily mean decisions in the long run. >> host: you talk about liquid democracy which is what? >> an interesting possibility we don't yet know for sure if it will work on a large scale but it's an interesting possibility we should be experimenting with much more seriously. it can have a kind of combination of direct democracy and representative democracy. direct is on every question and representative democracy like we have in the u.s. and other
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countries today you elect representatives to vote on their behalf. and the liquid democracy you can vote for both. you could always vote directly on any question if you want to but most of us don't begin to have the time or interest in doing that, so we can also delegate our right to vote. to anyone else we want to. my proxy for voting on military for voting on environmental issues and each of you could delegate even further the people that view more about the questions that need to be voted on and if at any time i didn't like how it was being voted i could always take it back and either vote directly myself or give my proxy to someone else so the potential advantage of that is that it lets you create
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democracies that are often much more responsive to the desires of the voters than what we have to do, better able to take advantage of specialized knowledge of particular questions and the key point is this kind of democracy wouldn't even be feasible without computers. >> host: thomas malone is the author at mit at the most recent book, super mind. be author of th future of work which came out in 2004 thanks for spending a few minutes on on booktv. >> guest: thank you.
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up next on booktv, columbia university psychiatry professor kelly explores the link between mental health and physical health. then later in ghost work mary gives a behind the scenes look at the work force


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